Men’s basketball ready for season tip-off

By on October 23, 2012

There were an estimated 2,600 people gathered on UAB’s campus Friday night as the 2012-2013 men’s basketball team, and First year Head Coach Jerod Hasse kicked off this year’s season with the first ever Hoops on the Hasse-phalt. The event opened with an introduction of the 2012-2013 UAB Women’s Basketball team followed by an introduction of several former UAB men’s basketball players (Bartow Era).

Jerod Hasse excites the crowd for Blazer basketball. Chase Cole/Staff Writer

The UAB men’s basketball program is in its 34th year, and after several years of sub par performances, fans were elated to welcome Jerod Hasse as the fifth head coach in program history to lead the Blazers.

Haase is focused on bouncing the program back, he will try to make the NCAA tournament since the disappointing play in game loss to Clemson two years ago.

UAB will be returning three starts missing only Ovie Soko who transferred out, and Cameron Moore who graduated and was invited to the Clippers summer league team.  The team will have no Freshmen, but in addition to a new coaching staff, the Blazers will welcome three transfers; one senior transfer with a year of eligibility said he came to UAB because, “The expectations here are very high. At this school and in this city, the expectations for the basketball team are very high. Coming here on my visit, I saw how these guys love their team. I came here to bring leadership and to bring my skills however the team needs them. Coming here is a major accomplishment for me and I’m excited.” UAB welcomed two junior college transfers: Rod Rucker and Fehro Alihodzic. The Green and Gold will now also see action from Isiah ‘Hoopy’ Jones who sat out last year after he was ruled ineligible to play his freshman year.

Hasse began his basketball career at Kansas as a student where he started on the same squad as Boston Celtics Paul Pierce, former NBA players Scot Pollard and Raef LaFrentz as well as current head coach of the Orlando Magic Jacque Vaughn.  After graduation, Hasse stayed on at Kansas as director of operations for the Jayhawks, working alongside his mentor head Coach Roy Williams.  When Williams transitioned to UNC Chapel Hill just before the 2003-2004 season began, he asked Hasse to join him, first as director of operations and later as an assistant coach.  Shortly thereafter the new leadership helped the Tarheels to a pair of national championships both in 2005 and 2009.

Hasse brings a different style of play to the Bartow arena and he isn’t wasting any time re-building a winning program.  Haase said in a media luncheon this past Wednesday, “The team is excited for the style we are going to play. We are going to pressure people defensively, pressure the basketball, deny passes, hopefully rebound the basketball well, and turn the ball over and turn the team over so we can get our secondary break and primary break. We’re going to run the basketball and hopefully score it quickly.”

The UAB men’s Basketball team started practice a week ago and while they certainly have their work cut out for them, the passion for the game and the desire to win was evident Friday night. “We will push them both physically and mentally to make sure they pick things up because it is a brand new system and it is their job to raise their game, raise their effort, and raise their intensity to my level.” Hasse said, “It is not my job to lower my expectations or demands, and they have really stepped up to that.”

The 2012-2013 Blazers hit the court Friday night with a few fast break warm-up drills to give fans a preview of what they can expect this year, followed by a 3 point shootout and finally a slam dunk contest which was judged by several UAB faculty members as well as former UAB basketball player Mo Finely, local celebrity James Spann from ABC 33/40 and Tony Kurre from the Opening Drive on 94.5 WJOX.

Senior guard Jekore Tyler claimed the prize for the slam dunk contest with an amazing display of athletic ability.  “This year you can expect to see an entirely different brand of UAB basketball” Tyler said.  “Like a breath of fresh air, we’re going to revamp the Blazer winning tradition”.

“We’re excited,” head coach Jerod Hasse said, “The guys are working hard and we think we have a chance to be a good team, and we’re trying to do it every day in practice but the main thing is the guys coming together as a team and they’ve really done that.”

The 2012-2013 UAB men’s basketball team will host North Alabama in an exhibition game November 3, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. CST. at Bartow arena to kick off the season.   The first game of regular season play is set for November 10, 2012 where the Blazers are set to face Young Harris College at Bartow Arena at 8:00 p.m. CST. The first year head coach’s squad will play three teams ranked in the preseason top 25 in Creighton on November 14. They will play Haase’s old squad, the 12th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels on December 1, Haase said on the matchup, “It is a big deal to have them on our schedule. To have them in Bartow Arena next year is huge, but for us to travel up to Chapel Hill is a great deal as well. We are going to play home and away games against the best competition we can find. We hope to continue the trend of playing great teams in the future. UAB welcomes challenges and we hope that, with the recruiting we are doing, we will be able to compete at a very high level.” The last ranked opponent will be rival Memphis, who are ranked 16th.

It will be a tough season for the Green and Gold, but fans will be looking forward to upcoming season, as both the football team and basketball teams will be striving to return to glory.

Chase Cole
Staff Writer

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